…For Legislative Projects

Monrovia-Members of the House of Representatives and Senate have allotted US$13.2 million in the  2024 budget for “Legislative Projects,” signalling a move towards decentralization and grassroots development.

Each of the 73 Representatives has been allotted US$100,000 for District Development Funds, while Senators will receive US$150,000 each. This allocation translates to a minimum of US$500,000 for projects counties with at least two representatives.

The breakdown of funds for Legislative Support Projects per county includes allocations such as Montserrado receiving US$2 million, Nimba US$1.2 million, Sinoe $600,000; Grand Bassa$800,000 and Maryland $600,000.

Others include Margibi $800,000 Bong $1m; Lofa $800,000; Grand Cape Mount; $600,000; Bomi $600,000; Gbarpolu$600,000; Grand Gedeh $600,000; River Gee $600,000; Grand Kru $500,000 and River Cess $500,000.

These funds are intended to support local development initiatives directly, marking a significant shift towards bringing government resources closer to the people.

Traditionally, government expenditure has been heavily skewed towards centralized institutions, with only a fraction of taxes collected being reinvested in local communities.

However, the introduction of a district development fund marks a departure from this trend, signalling a substantial boost for democratic governance and community empowerment.

House Speaker Fonati Koffa has played a key role in advancing this initiative, emphasizing grassroots development and inclusive governance. The recent approval of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Budget, amounting to US$738,859,827, reflects a notable increase and highlights commitment of lawmakers to meaningful developmental projects.

The budget, which has since been passed, reflect a significant increment of 6.7 percent from the initial version submitted by the Executive through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

The Executive’s initial budget proposal, totalling US$692 million, was subject to rigorous scrutiny and review by the Joint Committee on Ways, Means, and Finance, as well as the Public Accounts Committees of both the House and Senate.

Through extensive consultations with revenue-generating entities, the committees identified additional projected revenue amounting to US$46,451,000, paving the way for the augmentation of the budget and the allocation of funds towards vital developmental initiatives.

The district development fund, sourced from the newfound revenue, is earmarked for the strengthening of community institutions and the development and maintenance of local infrastructure. This bold policy decision represents one of the most progressive moves ever undertaken by the Legislature under Speaker Fonati Koffa’s leadership, signaling a commitment to grassroots empowerment and inclusive development across Liberia.

The Liberia Agency of Community Empowerment (LACE) is tasked with implementing these projects, with oversight responsibilities delegated to an appointed Oversight Committee, led by Deputy Speaker Thomas Fallah for the House of Representatives. The implementation process is set to proceed, including project planning, procurement, and oversight to ensure projects are completed by December 2024.

Accordingly, LACE will only construct or undertake projects in a district or county that are only designed and approved by the District Representative or Senator. The Representative or Senator in consultation with his or her constituents will discuss and approve a project, and such project will be submitted to an Oversight Committee for onward submission to the LACE.

For the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Oversight Committee is Deputy Speaker Fallah. The Deputy Speaker and members of the Project’s Oversight Committee were appointed by Speaker Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa to ensure that lawmakers’ projects are implemented to the letter, standard, and worth the money value.

The return of the lawmakers today will kick off their processes including designs of projects, procurement, and bidding which will overall bow down to oversight of a US$100,000 worth of projects to be done in each district between now and December 2024 – an extension of three months in 2025, March.

There are reports that a newly established department, the Legislative Support Program Department, will serve as the Secretariat of the Legislative Project Initiative.

Meanwhile, this focus on local development and community empowerment represents a positive shift towards inclusive and sustainable growth across Liberia.

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